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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Talmud

Mesechet Chullin: Great Gift Giving

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on November 11, 2011

The end of Chullin deals with many aspects of the non-sanctified gifts to the kohanim – certain cuts of meat from slaughtered animals, and the first shearing of sheep.   A major theme that the meaning and valance of a gift is shaped by the manner in which it is given and which it is received.  Continue Reading »

Mesechet Chullin: Our Limited Role as Creators

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on November 4, 2011

Towards the end of Mesechet Chullin, the Gemara – in the middle of a discussion about the impurity of animals, and the different components of their bodies – turned to a fascinating conversation about the diversity of the animals of creation, and the phenomenon of animals that are the product of cross-breeding (Chullin 127a): וכשהיה Continue Reading »

The Price of Freeing Captives

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on October 28, 2011

The following piece was written shortly after the release of Gilad Shalit in 2011.   Many people found themselves asking whether Gilad’s release was worth the cost of freeing of over one thousand terrorists.  Many newspaper articles and opinion pieces were written on this topic as well, with the large majority of them coming down Continue Reading »

Mesechet Chullin and Yom Kippur: Becoming Tahor

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on October 6, 2011

The Gemara Chullin (101a-b) compares the relative severity of the prohibition against a ritually pure (tahor) person who eats the meat of a sacrifice that has become impure (tamei) and the prohibition against a tamei person eating the meat of a tahor sacrifice.  The first prohibition – where the sacrificial meat has already been defiled – is a simple Continue Reading »

Mesechet Gittin: Annulling Loans During Shmita

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on September 23, 2011

The Talmud (Gittin 37b) quotes a mishna in Shivi’it (10:8) that states that when a person attempts to return a debt during Shmita, the creditor should say to him “I annul it.”  But if the debtor says, “Nevertheless, I wish to return it,” then the creditor should accept the payment.  The Gemara goes on to Continue Reading »

Using Ma’aser Money for Other Mitzvah Obligations

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on June 3, 2011

Can I use my ma’aser kesafim, tithes from my income, towards pre-existing mitzvah or tzedakah obligations, such as my synagogue dues, my children’s day school tuition, or pledges to charity that I have already made?  A mishna from Menachot touches on an answer to this question.   In the mishna in Menachot 81a, we learn that a Continue Reading »

Mesechet Menachot: Pigs and Greek Wisdom

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on May 27, 2011

The sixth chapter of Menachot is devoted to the topic of the bringing of the omer.   In the middle of all the halakhic discussions of this chapter, a fascinating story is told about how, one time, they needed to bring the omer from wheat that grew far away from Jerusalem: Our Rabbis taught: When Continue Reading »

Mesechet Menachot: The Taxonomy of the Gemara’s Grains

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on May 20, 2011

The Mishna of Menachot 70a lists the five species of grain.  These species are of central importance in many halakhot.  Only bread made from these species of grains is considered bread, and gets the brakha of hamotzi.  Only matzah made from these grains is considered matzah, and can be used on the seder night.  One only takes challah from bread Continue Reading »

Mesechet Menachot: Chametz and Fertility

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on May 13, 2011

Mesechet Menachot (53) addressed the prohibition to make menachot out of chametz.  Menachot, grain sacrifices, are usually made as matzah, unleavened bread.  There are some, notably the shetei ha’lechem, the two loaves that are brought on Shavuot, which are chametz.  Nevertheless, such chametz offerings are never burned on the altar, and the Torah explicitly prohibits Continue Reading »

“You Shall Be Holy” – Bringing the Holiness of the Temple into our Lives

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 29, 2011

The Gemara in Menachot discusses at length and over many pages the specific details relating to the laws of tzitzit.   At the end of these discussions, the Gemara ends with a braitta which that declares that “all are obligated in the mitzvah of tzitzit: Kohanim, Levites, and Israelites; converts, women and slaves.” (Menachot 43a).   Focusing on the first Continue Reading »

Magical Mezuzahs? Not so Much

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 14, 2011

In Masechet Menachot, there is a very rich section that deals with the laws of tefillin and mezuzah.   A particular theme of interest, especially in the context of the korban Pesach, is that of the mezuzah as an object that protects the house.   This idea is never stated in the Torah.  To the contrary, Continue Reading »

Rabbeinu Tam’s Two Sunsets: When is it Nighttime?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 1, 2011

One of the key Tosafots in Shas (Menachot 20b, s.v., ini) discusses the position of Rabbeinu Tam that there are two sunsets – the visible one, and then one occurring almost an hour later, when the sun – according to Rabbinic cosmology – exists the tunnel of the opaque dome of the rakiya, sky or Continue Reading »